Books by Diane Frank

While Listening to the Enigma Variations


For Victor Phillips


He said, If you dance your poems,
you will feel them in your body. 
You will become a bird,
an orbiting planet, a shooting star.
We were in a chapel
at a small university in Iowa,
his arms well trained in ballet.
What I most remember about that night
is when he said  “Leap!”
and put me into a lift.
An amazing way to fly.

At that time in our lives
we were all searching
for elusive perfect forms –
in the sky garden of meditation,
the music of touch
and the joy of leaping.
We were reading Castaneda, the Bhagavad Gita,
Robert Bly, Mirabai, Rumi,
Yoga Vasistha –
tumbling in angst and joy.
I read about the green flash
in an Annie Dillard book,
then saw it for the first time
over the Temple by the Lake
at Pokhara, Nepal
after 24 days of trekking around Annapurna –
flying monkeys in every direction,
a vision from a Himalayan dream.


You can see a light around him
as he sits on the stage of the San Francisco Ballet
before the performance of Don Quixote.
He’s been training to do
this leap, this moment –
all of his life. He says to himself,
Basilio, don’t worry, just dance.
Legs, are you still there?

In the wings, he gathers feathers,
then leaps onto the stage
loving the moment, having a great time.
He’s laughing at windmills, and behind a curtain,
Sancho is ready to ride on a white donkey.
And Dulcinea ... 
You know she’s looking at you,
even when her eyes seem to be somewhere else.

On the stage, you cannot hide anything.
The music takes you inside – now leap!
Nureyev whispers, If I did it, you can do it.
It’s his choreography.
Beautiful but terrifying.
Basilio is ready to lift his partner with one hand.
Dulcinea, this is your moment –

Classical ballet is so hard.
You fall, you get up, you try,
you leap through the ring of fire 
until you do the impossible.
I think of my friend in the chapel,
that night of poetry, my first leap.
If it hadn’t been for the AIDS epidemic,
he would still be dancing.


Twenty years later, he is a hummingbird
streaking across my garden.
The green dance of early morning,
a glissando waterfall dip,
calla lilies stretching toward
light that has been traveling through time.
At the edge of the sunset,
a tidal shift, a green feather, 
the sky field of aurora borealis,
rippled light.

Somewhere in a dream,
he steps out of a garden of strangers,
into a whir of grasshoppers
and slides down the earth tunnel,
shivering and shimmering.
As he pulses through the birth canal,
full of prayers and promises,
undiscovered constellations
are looking at themselves
through his eyes.

— Diane Frank